Fort McCoy demonstrated its strategic rail transportation capability once again as two Wisconsin National Guard units completed a rail movement with installation support in early July.

Seventy-nine military vehicles and pieces of equipment belonging to the 1158th Transportation Company and 107th Surface Maintenance Company of the Wisconsin National Guard were loaded on 46 railcars during the movement, said Movements Branch Chief Douglas T. Altman with the Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Transportation Division.

The units were shipping the equipment to Fort Hood, Texas, to be a part of a large exercise later in the year, said Capt. Chris Kauer, 1158th company commander.

"We're going to support an XCTC (Exportable Combat Training Capability) exercise at Fort Hood," Kauer said. "Most of the equipment is ours, but some also belongs to the 107th. They are sending a platoon of Soldiers with us to the exercise."

Many of the railcars were loaded with the 1158th's Heavy Equipment Transporter System (HETS) vehicles. HETS consists of two pieces of equipment - the M1070 tractor and the M1000 semi-trailer.

"We had all of our equipment (at Fort McCoy) well ahead of time," Kauer said. "We completed quite a bit training here in June to get our Soldiers ready, as well."

The rail loading and related work wasn't only completed by 1158th and 107th Soldiers. Employees with the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Transportation Division are key players in any rail movement from the post, said Fort McCoy Transportation Officer D.J. Eckland.

Eckland also said the 829th Engineer Company, also a Wisconsin National Guard unit, helped with the rail move. "The 829th participated in the Rail Operations Course we conducted on July 9, and then they assisted with tie-down of equipment on the railcars," he said.

Kauer said he appreciated all the support Fort McCoy LRC staff provided for the movement.

"They are all excellent at what they do," Kauer said. "They were really great leading up to and during the rail movement."

Whether it was moving troops and equipment during World War II or other contingencies, or bringing in or sending out equipment and supplies for a present-day exercise, rail will always be a primary mode of transportation at the installation, Eckland said.

"Rail is one of our strategic transportation missions, and these events allow us to exercise our capability," he said.

Kauer said the rail operation also was a great training event for all the Soldiers involved.

"We don't often get to practice this kind of work as a transportation company, so it was very beneficial," Kauer said. "This experience will also be helpful when we bring the equipment back later this year."

Eckland said officials with U.S. Transportation Command of Scott Air Force Base., Ill.; Combined Arms Support Command of Fort Lee, Va.; and the Army G-43 Directorate observed the progress of the rail loading as well.

Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

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